prompt: gold, title: the midas touch in misc. flash fiction

  • Dec. 21, 2020, 2:53 a.m.
  • |
  • Public

“The Hands that touched the Hands” is the Catholic tradition that fascinates me most. The idea the mandate for their clergy, from pope to parish priest, is derived from an unbroken chain of contact all the way back to Jesus. Peter touching Christ’s hands, Peter his bishops’ hands, their bishops’ hands, on and on for millennia. I’ve no idea if that’s really how it works, magic isn’t my bailiwick, no matter how I wish otherwise. On my best days, humanity’s my business. Most of the time, it’s just words.

Reminds me of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, if that’s not too blasphemous. On my worst day, blasphemy’s my only wheelhouse. The notion you can connect all Hollywood movies together by linking actors on shared projects, hops skips jumps, until you get back to Bacon in less than six steps. Fame is our American faith, after all, it makes symbolic sense.

If there’s a rock version of Bacon’s connectedness, it’s the guitarist Adrian Belew. He’s recorded with nearly everyone, Zappa, Nine Inch Nails, Bowie, the Talking Heads, on and on, one point or another. Most people, if they know of him at all, it’s as “the guy other than Robert Fripp” in later incarnations of King Crimson. His generation’s most innovative guitarist but personally obscure.

My dad and I saw him solo at a tiny venue in Albany, he answered questions between songs. As someone else’s sideman, he’d played for tens of thousands, but as himself, a couple hundred in a converted bank across from the public radio station. Nevertheless, one goddamn hell of a show.

Still, every question asked was about someone more famous he had worked with. The audience wanted anecdotes about Bowie, about Zappa, never just about him. Everyone wants to touch hands that touched magic. I learned this in Los Angeles, I had to face how these impulses were buried in me too. We see ourselves lead awaiting alchemists to make us gold, bread pining upon transubstantiation into flesh. We lust to be moons reflecting some brilliant sun, or even worse, satellites angling for third-hand lights from someone else’s moon. But it’s wrong. I was wrong.

If there is magic, I can tell you it’s not in whose hand you shook, it’s in you. In what you’re able to create, inspire. Your deeds, your heart, that’s the burnished brilliance with which you shine. Belew made some amazing music there, in the moment, with his own two hands, even if it was just for a smattering of Albanians. Near the end of the Q&A, I raised my hand and asked about his solo work, why so many of his lyrics are about trains, what they symbolized. You should’ve seen the smile on the man’s face, the relief. The pride on my dad’s face was pretty great as well.

You aren’t the hands you’ve touched. You’re what your hands can make. Make magic. You’re already golden, you just need to let yourself shine.

Last updated December 22, 2020

You must be logged in to comment. Please sign in or join Prosebox to leave a comment.